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Making School Reform Work

Making School Reform Work: New Partnerships for Real Change

Paul T. Hill
James Harvey
Copyright Date: 2004
Pages: 129
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  • Book Info
    Making School Reform Work
    Book Description:

    Bringing change to our public school system is hard, and the current system of education governance creates barriers that can make that reform even harder. Here six authorities in public education discuss how local philanthropies can overcome them even if school districts cannot. Making School Reform Work identifies new institutions that can be created by foundations and civic groups to remedy deficiencies in local school governance, formulate bold reforms, and guarantee implementation. These institutions include incubators for starting new schools, independent data analysis centers, public-private partnerships for recruitment and training of school leaders, and new ways of funding and managing school facilities. The contributors are Sarah Brooks (Carleton College), Michael DeArmond (University of Washington), Marguerite Roza (University of Washington), and Abigail Winger (Milwaukee consultant).

    eISBN: 978-0-8157-9667-1
    Subjects: Business, Education, Sociology

Table of Contents

  1. Front Matter
    (pp. i-iv)
  2. Table of Contents
    (pp. v-vi)
  3. Foreword
    (pp. vii-xii)
    Strobe Talbott

    IN 1997, RECOGNIZING that big city public school systems were continuing to struggle despite more than a decade of reform initiatives, Brookings and its Brown Center on Education Policy set out to create new, more powerful options for city leaders. We designed our work to help mayors and leaders of business and philanthropy as well as school boards and superintendents. Brookings nonresident senior fellow Paul T. Hill, a professor at the University of Washington’s Daniel J. Evans School of Public Affairs, led the work. The effort was funded by the Alcoa Foundation, the Smith Richardson Foundation, the Pew Charitable Trusts,...

  4. ONE A Fresh Assessment: Why Reform Initiatives Fail
    (pp. 1-7)

    AS THE 1990S DAWNED, the outlook for genuine, deep-rooted school reform had never looked better. Under the leadership of President George H. W. Bush and Governor Bill Clinton of Arkansas, the nation’s governors had adopted six impressive National Education Goals. Business leaders, rallied by the Business Roundtable and the National Alliance for Business, had thrown their weight behind the goals. A coalition of corporate and philanthropic interests was busy cobbling together an ambitious effort to reshape schools, the New American Schools Development Corporation. And a consensus was developing around “systemic” reform, a catch-all educational buzzword emphasizing the “alignment” of standards,...

  5. TWO The Need for New Institutions
    (pp. 8-16)

    NO ONE CAN SAY exactly what configuration of schools and other educational programs will ultimately solve the problem of ineffective public education in big cities. Clearly existing school districts and the schools they provide are not succeeding. And clearly the groups with the most influence over school district policy do not see experimenting and adapting until effective ways of providing instruction are found as the way to solve the problem. Instead, despite public pronouncements in support of improving student achievement and doing whatever is necessary to advance it, the real political dynamics in most urban areas revolve around protecting the...

  6. THREE New Capacity for Civic Oversight
    (pp. 17-25)

    LARGE PUBLIC SCHOOL districts are “in” the community but only rarely are they “of” it. Their strength is also their weakness: somehow urban schools stand apart from the other major political and economic forces driving their cities. This independence, something that is supported by the tenure and civil-service status enjoyed by their employees, is intended to buffer them from partisan politics. Their bonding authority provides local educators with formidable local clout and autonomy in the face of the roller coaster of municipal finance. The independence of local school boards is thought to protect schools from what might be intolerable meddling...

  7. FOUR Getting out of the Facilities Business
    (pp. 26-40)

    IN MARCH 2002, superintendent John Martin from Grandview, Missouri, found his class at Harvard’s John F. Kennedy School of Government interrupted by an emergency phone call from his district. The unstable gable wall of a fifty-year-old school was moving more rapidly than anyone had anticipated, and his worried administrators wanted to know whether or not they should close the school for their students’ protection. A similar dilemma had faced Washington, D.C. Superintendent Franklin Smith several years earlier, and it had cost him his job. Faced with a court decision requiring him to certify that his schools met fire codes, Smith...

  8. FIVE Incubators for New Schools
    (pp. 41-51)

    WHETHER LAUNCHED BY school districts, entrepreneurs, religious groups, or charter school advocates, starting a school is no easy task. It is certainly not something that can be done with little thought or planning. Yet traditional approaches to new school start-ups have entailed little more than providing a building, inserting staff, and replicating existing programs and policies. The results, especially in big-city school districts, have been predictable, as the schools do no better than the ones they were meant to replace. The ensuing failures of many such schools raise questions about the merits of this start-up model.

    Private and charter schools...

  9. SIX Taking Advantage of Teacher Turnover
    (pp. 52-64)
    Sarah R. Brooks and Paul T. Hill

    A NATIONAL TEACHER shortage is always just around the corner, but it is not here yet.¹ Demand does outstrip the supply of teachers with good training in mathematics, science, and special education, but no overall shortage exists. No Child Left Behind legislation, however, may finally bring home the long-predicted teacher shortage, according to recent news accounts.² The new law requires that as a prerequisite to receiving federal assistance under Title I, all new teachers in the school district be licensed and certified in their fields.

    Some districts have trouble finding enough teachers of all sorts, but these are usually inner-city...

  10. SEVEN Institutions to Find, Prepare, and Support School Leaders
    (pp. 65-82)

    MOST CITIES REPORT difficulty finding enough good principals: Seattle, for example, openly maintains a policy of rotating twenty-five outstanding principals among its nearly one hundred schools. A 1998 survey by national principals’ associations reported that 50 percent of districts nationally reported a shortage of qualified candidates for at least one principal opening in the prior year.

    These “shortage” reports contradict evidence about the numbers of people holding principals’ certificates. As a series of studies sponsored by the Wallace foundations has recently shown, every locality has enough people with the formal qualifications, and all but a few districts are getting about...

  11. EIGHT Rethinking Data Capacity
    (pp. 83-97)

    MOST URBAN CITIES lack the strategic information to successfully identify and implement a district reform strategy. Although the term “data-driven decisionmaking” has become a popular idea in school reform, urban districts do not have access to the right data to make the best decisions.

    That is not to say that districts do not have and use data, as is evidenced by the three-inch-thick binders of data handed to school board members at each meeting. The most commonly reported data describe the current conditions of schools, which often include average scores broken down by subject area, socioeconomic status, minority group, poverty,...

  12. NINE A School Inspectorate
    (pp. 98-114)

    THE LANGUAGE OF the British School Inspections Act of 1996 rolls impressively off the page: “Be it enacted by the Queen’s most Excellent Majesty, by and with the advice and consent of the Lords Spiritual and Temporal, and Commons, in this present Parliament assembled, and by the authority of the same, as follows. . . .”¹

    With that stock formulation, developed over centuries to precede every enactment of Parliament, the English government in 1997 rechartered Her Majesty’s Inspectorate of Schools in England and Wales, a system first established in 1839.² The legislation defined the functions and authority of separate chief...

  13. TEN Toward a “Third Way”
    (pp. 115-122)

    SCHOOL DISTRICTS INEVITABLY focus on the here and now. Constant demands for services from parents and pressures for pay, benefits, and reduced workload from teachers almost always dominate the concerns of school boards and central offices.

    In practical terms, this means that, despite lip service to the contrary, most districts ignore reform. Deep and long-lasting reform strategies require forms of investment, monitoring, and adjustment that school districts have no history of providing. Commitment to change includes monitoring leading indicators of whether reforms are happening as intended; reporting on real-dollar flow of funds; tracking the effectiveness of individual schools, especially those...

  14. Contributors
    (pp. 123-124)
  15. Index
    (pp. 125-130)
  16. Back Matter
    (pp. 131-131)